Graphite has largely unseated fiberglass from its throne, but the classic material has had a resurgence lately. We tested Epic’s 8-weight 888 FastGlass fly fishing rod in Montana waters to find out how it stacked up.
Considered a “delicate” fishing rod, fiberglass was a go-to for dry fly anglers and people looking for that slow, smooth action and a more nuanced feel. But with more anglers leaning towards graphite, it’s losing some of its hold in the market.
We took the Epic 8-weight 888 FastGlass ($299) onto the water to see how it would hold up against the tough fall conditions Montana waters can present.
Fiberglass as a Medium
Though some of the classic notions of glass are true, fiberglass can more than hold its own in most conditions from small streams to the flats. Glass rods tend to have a deeper flex, giving you more of a “full” flex profile. This profile and heightened flexibility of the rod helps fight strong fish on light tippet. And it gives you more feeling when playing fish.
Living in Montana, 8-weight rods are about the highest we go. On rivers like the Yellowstone or Madison, we often throw big streamers for the burly browns and rainbows lurking in the river. An 8-weight certainly gets the job done. And it gives you the flexibility to have a rod that also works for bonefish, bass, and a whole host of other fresh and saltwater species.
Having cast other, older glass rods, I expected the Epic 888 FastGlass rod to be too soft, or not be able to pick up or cast a sink tip line well. My concern grew a little as I approached my fishing spot and the wind picked up significantly. As an angler who almost exclusively uses graphite, I questioned if this rod would have the power to cut through the wind and cast my sink tip line and streamer.
Epic Fly Fishing Rod Action
Right away, I was pleasantly surprised by how the rod handled. The action was actually faster than I was anticipating, and the butt section didn’t feel too soft. I was still able to pick up my sink tip line and leadeye streamer to recast. The light wind didn’t bother the rod performance, but I would prefer something a little stiffer on our gale-force days.
If you’re looking for a rod that has a powerful “backbone” and ability to turn over big flies (think muskie or pike streamers) and big fish, I’d stick with graphite. For trout, bonefish, or other species where you need a heavier rod with nice presentation, this rod is great.
The rod is a little bit shorter than standard 9-foot rods, coming in at 8 feet 8 inches. But I didn’t feel disadvantaged having 4 inches less rod. The shorter profile keeps the overall weight of the rod down without affecting the action. If you’ve ever used a heavier-weight fly fishing rod all day, you know that your arm can get sore after a few hours of casting. But this rod is light and easy enough to cast all day without being uncomfortable.
Epic markets this rod toward bonefish and flats fishing. I found it handled trout and the bigger rivers of Montana very well. The rod had no problem casting both floating and sink tip lines as well as a variety of differently sized trout streamers. I wouldn’t put anything heavier than a sink tip line on it. It’s just a bit too delicate.
Epic’s FastGlass rods are durable, light, and extremely responsive. The proprietary SnakeBelly finish is a product of the brand’s radial production process. And, for me, it adds another reason to have faith in the rod. I tend to be tough on rods. I don’t always break them down between trips, and I might be known to slip a little here and there. So having this durable finish makes me feel better knowing the rod can take whatever I throw at it.
Epic rods are made by hand to order, which means you’re getting a beautiful, high-quality rod with components of your choosing. This rod comes in a bold electric-blue, and you get the choice of either titanium or black reel seats. Epic also gives you the option for custom inscription, making the rod truly yours. And the midlevel price point of $299 allows you to add some depth and quality to your collection.
If you’re in the market for a fun 8-weight fly fishing rod, this is a good pick. The smooth action and responsive nature of this rod make it a good choice for trout or bonefish. Don’t be afraid to throw streamers with it. But if you jump up to big streamers (think 4.5-plus inches), keep a graphite rod close by. Faster than a traditional glass rod but with more feel and a deeper flex than most graphite rods, the FastGlass is a great addition to any quiver.